While Christmas and end-of-the-year traditions are to be respected, good intentions to start the new year should also be renewed. And, after bountiful lunches and New Year’s Eve dinner, all arrows generally point to that single, hard-earned resolution: getting in shape. The goal is to eliminate those few extra pounds of guilty pleasure packed on over the holidays, and to purify the body if you overindulged in alcohol, sweets or salty foods. To reach this goal, try a two-pronged approach. On the one hand, work to improve your diet that strayed from the rules in December, and on the other, plan physical activity that gets you moving to reactivate your body with a healthy routine. For some advice on getting back into shape in the new year, we asked personal trainer and nutritionist-biologist Simone Torini.
Between dinners with friends and colleagues, the month of December sees a few too many toasts. Detoxing is a priority for the new year. The rule of thumb is to resume positive habits for the body and to rehydrate to gradually eliminate accumulated toxins.
“The advice is to drink a lot of water, at least 50% more than in normal conditions”, suggests Simone Torini. “Other liquids—such as coffee, tea and fruit juices—contain substances like caffeine, theine and sugars, whose micro-elements nullify the sense of hydration. Water remains the best option, perhaps with lemon or a bit of squeezed orange. Or a homemade juice with no added sugar. Fruit extracts can also be fine, so long as you don’t overdo it—because fruit has sugars, in the long run it is not very hydrating. These are good for breakfast or mid-afternoon. Over the course of the day, the thing that works best is water.”
‘Light’ is the key word to start the year on the right foot. High-calorie dishes are off limits, at least until the next holiday. In general, it’s not a good idea to skip meals to recalibrate previous excesses. Instead, it’s better to focus on foods that offer the energy you need without increasing fat mass. Your best bet is fresh vegetables, even raw, portions of fruit for morning and afternoon snacks, meat and fish, which have the edge to give you energy that your body burns quickly.
“An easy rule is to eat the exact opposite of what you ate during the holidays”, says Simone Torini. “If you’ve overdone it with carbohydrates and fats, such as cakes or homemade pasta, focus on the opposite: vegetables, proteins and above all fish, which contains a lot of water. Fruit can help, too. Cut down on meat, as we tend to overdo it with this one during the holidays, as well. For dressings, extra virgin olive oil is best. As an alternative, spices such as turmeric, ginger, rosemary or garlic—though they don’t have hydrating properties—are good to flavour dishes.”
Re-activating your metabolism after the holidays also means working out to help reduce fat mass. Says Simone Torini: “Engaging in aerobic and cardiovascular activity is highly recommended. The reason is a metabolic: this type of activity takes advantage of the energy substrates—composed of carbohydrates, sugars and fats—accumulated during the holiday season. For aerobics, choose from running, skiing, swimming, biking or any activity that raises the heart rate. There are also group classes featuring running, stretching and offering generally high-energy impact activity. Classes are usually very engaging, as they take place with other people, a teacher and mus